Free Ramen Noodles for Inmates Who Get the Vaccine at a Washington State Jail

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What will officials do to get people to take the coronavirus vaccine? A jail in Washington state is going so far as offering inmates Ramen Noodles to comply with their wishes for the vaccine.

The Benton County Jail, which is located in the city of Kennewick in southern Washington, is offering packs of the instant noodles to inmates who sign up for their first COVID-19 shot, according to The Olympian.

They even have a name for this new program, “Soup for Shots,” and it has achieved results in the first few weeks since it was implemented on August 1.

The jail reported this weekend that it expected to distribute 900 packets of noodle soup to 90 inmates by Monday. This is according to Scott Souza who is the chief of corrections for the Benton County Corrections Department.

Souza told The Olympian, “We’re doing everything we can do to incentivize vaccination and we are getting outstanding response.” Apparently, research shows that prisoners were more likely to contract the coronavirus behind bars.

The staff put up posters around the jail to advertise the new vaccine incentive. The posters read, “To encourage and support COVID vaccination efforts, the Benton County Department of Corrections will be providing each inmate that starts their vaccination series with 10 FREE RAMEN NOODLE SOUPS!!!”

There was a large photo of Ramen Noodles to tempt the inmates. This delicacy is apparently one of the most popular commissary items, which is why it was chosen by the staff.

The jail has 360 inmates currently and it serves all law enforcement agencies in Benton County. Benton County Jail has been offering COVID vaccines for several months. It is available free to any inmate, regardless of the terms or length of their incarceration. Officials have been pleased with the increased turnout thanks to the Soup for Shots program. And they have been more than happy to share details about this incentive program and its results with other prisons in Washington state.

They are not alone in providing an incentive program to get inmates vaccinated. The Alabama Department of Corrections decided to give $5 in canteen credit to inmates who get the vaccine as well as those who have already been jabbed.

Kristi Simpson, a spokesperson for the Alabama Department of Corrections, said to ABC News, “A confined correctional environment in which social distancing is challenging and all communicable diseases, to include COVID-19, spread more easily is — put simply — starkly different than a community environment.”

And Lt. Jared Schechter from the Sedgwick County Jail in Wichita, Kansas, told KWCH-TV that they gave inmates $10 in commissary items for getting the vaccine. The $10 is equal to about eight to 10 packs of ramen, four bags of chips, and jalapenos.

“The goal is to mitigate COVID-19 in the jail as much as possible. It’s a correctional environment,” Schechter said. “We’re running at capacity or more above capacity today on inmates, and so social distancing is very difficult to do in a correctional environment.”

Other companies have been noodling about how to provide incentives so more people get vaccinated. Way back in March, Krispy Kreme started giving out free donuts to anyone who had received a coronavirus vaccine.

Celebrity Chef Jose Andres declared that he would give a $50 gift certificate for his Think Food Group restaurants to anyone who can show proof that they have been vaccinated against the coronavirus.

Washington, D.C., treated those who got the shot to free beer in at least one pop-up site. The city also joined forces with Uber to give free round-trips for those who wished to come to the vaccination and beer event.

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